Gates Foundation gives $40 million to UK immunotherapy research company

Gates Foundation

Reuters UK reported Monday that the Gates Foundation is investing $40 million (29.41 million pounds) in the British immunotherapy company, Immunocore. The privately held biotech company will be using the funds to further their immunotherapy development programs to fight infectious diseases.

According to Reuters, the Oxford-based company has lately been concentrating on T-cell therapies as a cancer treatment. The company has collaborated on T-cell receptor medicines with Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly.

By joining with Immunocore, the Gates Foundation will be aiding research for new treatments for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV, as well as others.

In a press release, Immunocore detailed that the investment will be used to support the development of their ImmTAV (Immune mobilizing monoclonal TCRs against Virus) and ImmTAB (Immune mobilizing monoclonal TCRs against Bacteria) therapies for “infectious diseases that pose a global health challenge.” Immunocore claims that such therapies have been shown to “reduce treatment timelines and improve patient outcomes.”

Immunocore claims that viral and bacterial infections are some of the top global causes of “morbidity and mortality.” Up to a third of the world’s population, the press release states, are latently-infected with tuberculosis. There are 10.4 million new active tuberculosis cases each year, with 1.8 million deaths annually by the disease. In the case of HIV, the second main infectious disease Immunocore is developing treatments for, there are 1.8 million new infections, and 1 million deaths, each year.

Namir Hassan, Vice President of the Infectious Disease Unit at Immunocore, commented on the Gates Foundation’s investment in their research.

“We believe the immune system harbors the capacity to resolve problematic infectious diseases and our TCR based therapies are well placed to mobilize this process,” Hassan said. “Our purpose in the Immunocore infectious disease unit is to revolutionize treatments for diseases such as hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and HIV and provide affordable medicines globally including in the developing world. This collaboration will be critical to this initiative.”

The announcement is just another step in the process for the Gates Foundation’s crusade for global health.

Earlier in September, the foundation granted PATH’ Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access (CVIA) with a $120 million investment. The center launched last year with an initial investment of $11 million by the Gates Foundation. The Seattle-based global health nonprofit company announced the grant on September 6. The money will be used to support PATH’s development and deployment of vital vaccines.

PATH’s CVIA focuses on developing vaccines in two areas. The first includes a range of the leading causes of death in children, such as pneumonia, diarrheal disease and malaria. The second area includes other top global health concerns, including the following: influenza, meningitis, and human papillomavirus.

Newsmax reported Monday that the Gates Foundation has also launched a new report that they will conduct annually through 2030. The report, called “Goalkeepers,” will highlight the some of the “greatest global threats to humanity” and will detail progress made on each front every year.

The 18 data points that will be studied in the report have been outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015. The data points, according to the Gates (and the UN) are “fundamental to people’s health and well-being.”

“This report comes out at a time when there is more doubt than usual about the world’s commitment to development,” the Gates write on the “Goalkeepers” launch page. “In our own country, Congress is currently considering how to deal with the big cuts to foreign aid proposed in the president’s budget. A similar mood of retrenchment has taken hold in other donor countries. Meanwhile, most developing countries need to do more to prioritize the welfare of their poorest citizens.”

The report won’t simply be just a series of numbers on a page, though. Although the Gates obviously see the value in data in giving meaning to reality, they also understand that the same data sometimes only tells one side of the story. “Goalkeepers” will tell the “stories behind the data, stories of leadership, stories of people who are saving and improving lives,” Bill Gates says in the launch video for the report.

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Progress is possible, but not inevitable. #Goalkeepers17

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Some of the global threats the Gates’ will outline are HIV, poverty, stunting, maternal mortality, tuberculosis and malaria. Investing in companies like PATH or Immunocore are a vital step in the process of attacking these global threats for the Gates.

Attacking their goals on all fronts, “Goalkeepers” will keep track of the global pursuit of the Gates’ shared goals. All while the Gates continue to research and invest in companies around the world that are helping to reach those goals.

Featured Image via Flickr/Jules Antonio

About Kirsten Loose

Give me the smell of a thrift shop bookstore over a puff of Chanel No. 5; a cup of tea and a scone over a siren-painted, white paper cup; and, the four seasons in all their temperamental glory over a life of endless sunshine. I'm an East-coast girl from the suburbs of Philadelphia who can't decide which is better, the countryside or the cityscape.

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